TELLTALE signs of being past your prime, such as baldness and creased earlobes, may provide an early warning of heart disease, say scientists.
Researchers found that men and women who had three to four ageing signs were 57pc more likely than younger looking individuals to suffer a heart attack. Their risk of heart disease was raised by 39pc.
"The visible signs of ageing reflect physiologic or biological age," said lead scientist Professor Anne-Tybjaerg-Hansen, from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
Her team studied almost 11,000 men and women aged 40 years and older noting four key signs of ageing -- receding hairline, crown top baldness, earlobe creases, and yellow fatty deposits around the eyes.
Over the next 35 years, 3,401 of the participants developed heart disease and 1,708 suffered a heart attack. Both individually and together, the ageing signs predicted heart attack and heart disease independently of traditional risk factors.
Fatty deposits around the eyes were the strongest single predictor of both heart attack and heart disease.
The risk of heart problems increased with each additional sign of ageing, the scientists told the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions meeting in Los Angeles.
The meeting also heard how viagra may help protect the heart from the side effects of a powerful cancer drug. Studies showed that the erectile dysfunction drug helped prevent heart damage caused by the cancer treatment doxorubicin.